The Office, "The Farm"
Well, the Packer half was just stupid, but the title location was good. Didn't blow me away or anything; the "shooting the corpse" joke was well across the line of bad taste and ultimately I think I'm relieved that I won't feel the sense of obligation to watch part of The Office continue, but I saw the potential for a new show. This one might have had more chance to shine as an actual comedy, without all the emotional stuff outshining it. You can never have too many wacky rural Schrute Farms characters. I definitely loved Dwight's brother and if someone doesn't verify that he and B.J. Novak are extremely close blood relatives quick, my head is going to explode, because they sound near identical and look like brothers. It was basically Ryan Howard in The California Timeline. :D
(I wonder if the DVD set will have the original version of the pilot somewhere on it? I read that like 20 minutes were cut to work it into a standalone mixed with a B-plot this late in the season. At this point, without easy access to the early deleted scenes and all the post-episode news/reviews, I feel like I'm watching the season half blind and half deaf, missing key points and crucial information all over the place, and almost like I wish I'd just waited until I bought the DVD...but no, I want to do this now. That said, this had better be the greatest DVD in the history of TV-on-DVD sets.)
The Office, "Moving On"
Guess what? It turns out Michael Scott would have been way less aggravating and honestly funny if they'd hired Bob Odenkirk instead of Steve Carell. I mean, probably still would have burned out within two or three seasons, but that's two or three seasons longer than I could stand Steve Carell. Work here, Pam! Work here!!
No? OK. I want everyone to sit up and take notice of the fact that for the first time ever, it doesn't bother me that she thinks "receptionist" isn't a prestigious enough job. I mean, I'm happier if the reason is that she is not invigorated about moving to Philly, but I'm also OK with her wanting something different after that many years. I'm growing!
I don't know whether to find it cute or sad that her resume is so terrible that even I could do a better job ("hobbies"? "hobbies: my children"?? And how hard is it to increase spacing and use enough bullet points to fill the page with 10 years of experience over 3 jobs?). Although it was definitely cute to see exactly how zero-experience Pam must have finagled herself into the job at Dunder-Mifflin in the first place. I'm gonna go out on a limb and headcanon that it was actually her first full-time job interview ever.
As for the rest of Jim and Pam's scenes...well, first of all, they hugged and I felt nothing, and them having any kind of affectionate contact has literally never failed to send me over the moon, so I'm already like YOU BROKE THEM. FUCK YOU. I wanted to appreciate how they seem to have had their fight without fundamentally changing their relationship. That's how I should feel. But instead, I feel blank. I am incredibly proud of Pam for saying "I liked our life in Scranton," but as far as I can tell we're back to the unwinnable situation of no compromise -- either his dream job gets shortchanged or they move -- and no. Stop. Forever stop that story.
[edit: RS back in. I just rewatched their last scene, and now I'm interested in this "kind of out left field" / "is it?" exchange. I realize now that the last episode was so sad and awful because it questioned emotions, and this is much more directly about communication and outside obstacles. This is the specific conflict/discussion/fight I want to see, because he never asked for her input. He asked for approval to do his thing, so she gave her support because that's what you do, and then he kept asking for a little more and she kept giving the same, and it's not her fault there was never a good time to hit the brakes without sounding unreasonable. But even the power of hindsight doesn't tell me how we could have prevented this situation, short of telling her about the job opportunity before he got the job and talking then. I can still see exactly how we got here, and the horrible sense it makes. I just don't know how to stem the tide.]
In non-sad news: I thoroughly enjoyed Andy's bitching and moaning, and Toby patiently explaining (again) how Andy cannot fire people he has a grudge with, but nothing as much as I enjoyed the 5-way ex argument. Even Erin is smart enough to find this offensively messy and wrong (though honestly, I think being with Pete is somehow making her smarter). I still have a soft spot for dweeby ol' Gabe, but it's a testament to how much greater Erin has gotten that right now I do not miss that relationship at all. And I used to ship it without irony, albeit it mostly for the sheer glee of how weird it was.
Meanwhile, Pete's ex seems to have arrived with the sole purpose of
"Cleaning Aunt Shirley" was also way more fun than it had a right to be. I loved watching Dwight observe Angela's perfect future-Schrute-mother traits ("loose braids reflect a loose character"). It's sort of sad, that this relationship will never feel right again, after all the idiocy of her stupid unwitting sham marriage, but if you just sort of cherry-pick their scenes in this episode and stitch them into, like, season 5...this would be amazing.
And awww, Toby finally does a thing and gets (non-fatally) strangled in thanks. SO MUCH FOR A SECRET "REAL" STRANGLER. But Nellie also makes vaguely interested noises. And suddenly part of me is very curious about possible development of that interest.
CSI: NY, 9x04, "Unspoken"
Whining first -- I feel like I would have enjoyed it slightly more if they had used a more impressively instrumental-only score, or called on a band that a) I like and respect, or b) that had meaningful lyrics that really seemed to enhance the scenes (I tried hard to listen for layers, but...I mean, it's Green Day. "Amy" was the only one I got some nuance from, and I took particular offense to the pooly censored "Kill the DJ," which made it impossible not to feel like you were still hearing the word in your head).
But it was definitely unique, and it would be hypocritical of me to praise Community for always changing things up and not reward this show for thinking outside the box too. It's also been long enough that I forgot they did this as a nod to "The Artist," which would have been a surefire way to handicap it and get my hackles all up with "YOU ARE NOT BEING CLEVER AND ARTSY, YOU PRETENTIOUS SMUGWADS, WORDS ARE IMPORTANT."
I thought it was most effective while Mac was testing himself on color names -- I don't know if I've just been watching a lot of really poor acting lately or what, but I was really, really impressed by everything about that (and all subsequent scenes related to that one, including the conversation with the...doctor, therapist?, where cracks in his normally indestructible armor appear. I mean, we see him lose his temper all the time, and occasionally soften in more emotional moments, but what we really have not seen much of is fear, particularly anxiety-based fear. That's what got to me.
Flack's scenes were also marvelous, from attempted-action-hero to spending the rest of the episode (poorly) coping with the senselessness of her death and crabbing at anybody who will listen.
Lindsay stole the show, of course; getting hospitalized does that for you. But even before that, momentarily losing Lucy was a nice heart-stopping appetizer to get you warmed up for the main event. Unbashed shipping ensued, almost like old times. Between the initial injury and panic, rush to the hospital with her, handing off and reuniting with Lucy, snuggly family hospital bed moments and forehead kisses everywhere, I was more than satiated on every front. See, I even forgot the arrival of Mac early on to provide Danny with emotional support, there was so much going on.
It's like this entire episode was frosting; I almost forgot there was a wronged-teacher-turned-vengeful plot going on underneath. My favorite part of that was the creepy hospital-stalking and writing an invisible message on the window glass. I'm still not sure why he wrote that, but...
All in all: The Season of Pleasant Surprises continues strong.